PHL and EFTA sign free trade agreement
|Ministers and other Representatives from the Philippines – and from the Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) today in Bern, Switzerland.
The Philippines-EFTA FTA was signed by Adrian S. Cristobal Jr., Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of the Philippines, and by Johann N. Schneider-Amman, President of Switzerland and Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research of Switzerland, Martin Eyjólfsson, Ambassador, Iceland, Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein; and Dilek Ayhan, State Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries of Norway.
Building on a Joint Declaration on Cooperation signed by the Philippines and the EFTA States in the Westman Islands, Iceland in June 2014, FTA negotiations were launched in March 2015 and concluded in February 2016.
The Philippines-EFTA FTA has comprehensive coverage, including trade in goods (industrial and agricultural goods, fish and other marine products), rules of origin, trade facilitation, SPS, TBT, trade in services, investment, competition, protection of intellectual property rights, government procurement and sustainable development. A Joint Committee will oversee the implementation of the FTA. The Agreement will enter into force after completion of the necessary internal procedures for ratification by the Parties.
The Representatives of both the Philippines and the EFTA States noted the close and significant economic relations between both sides . They underlined, that the signing of the FTA represented an important step in further strengthening this relationship. The preferential market access and the rules and disciplines governing the economic relations between the Parties under the FTA will supplement the economic cooperation and exchanges in the Joint Declaration on Cooperation, thus providing a stronger stimulus for the further development of trade and investment.
Economic relations between the Philippines and the EFTA States
Merchandise trade between the Philippines and the EFTA States has increased at an average annual rate of 11% between 2005 and 2015. In 2015, total merchandise trade between the Philippines and the EFTA Stateswas valued at USD 863 million, with EFTA’s exports to the Philippines amounting to USD 407 million and exports from the Philippines to the EFTA states reaching USD 456 million. EFTA’s key exports to the Philippines were pharmaceuticals, clocks and watches, and machinery while EFTA’s imports mainly consisted of precious metals, electrical machinery and medical instruments.
The Philippines as a trade partner
The Philippines is amongst the fastest and most resilient economies in Asia with over 100 million consumers. The Philippines ranks 37th in merchandise trade and 21st in commercial services trade. The Philippines has preferential trade agreements with the ASEAN Member States, Japan, China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.
EFTA as a trade partner
With a combined population of over 13 million and a combined GDP of USD 1.2 trillion, the EFTA States are the world’s 9th largest merchandise trader and the 5th largest trader in commercial services, as well as significant actors in the area of foreign direct investment. They now have 27 FTAs with a total of 37 partners outside the European Union.
Details on the FTA Agreement, including the legal texts, can be found at www.efta.int/free-trade/free-trade-agreements/philippines